cover image But Not Kate

But Not Kate

Marissa Moss. Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Books, $14 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10600-3

A worthy theme--the need to feel special--is here explored through rather fatuous text and undistinguished art. Kate, a mouse, can't think of what to paint in art class, has nothing worthwhile in her school lunch box and is always last in line. All this changes when the magician Abra Shazam, performing at Kate's school, calls on the reluctant mouse for assistance. By marshalling the courage to mount the stage and shout the magic words, Kate transforms Abu Shazam's scarf--and in the process, herself--from something lackluster into something shining. Despite good intentions, the book mirrors the early haplessness of its protagonist. The spare, verselike text that doesn't quite rhyme and doesn't quite scan awkwardly depicts an all-too-magical transformation, while the watercolor illustrations may strike some as unappealing. The outsize ears and triangular heads of Moss's ( After-School Monster ; Regina's Big Mistake ) spindly limbed mice make them look unsettlingly like Yoda from The Empire Strikes Back . Ages 5-up. (Mar.)